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Star's skipping off for reunion

PUBLISHED: 08:24 13 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:00 22 October 2010

RICHARD PARR

It's up there among the all-time classic TV programmes featuring animal stars - on a par with the likes of Lassie, Flipper the Dolphin and Champion the Wonder Horse.

It's up there among the all-time classic TV programmes featuring animal stars - on a par with the likes of Lassie, Flipper the Dolphin and Champion the Wonder Horse.

The theme tune was certainly irritating, but anyone in their thirties and above will surely still be able to repeat those unforgettable words: "Skippy, Skippy… Skippy the Bush Kangaroo; Skippy, Skippy… Skippy our friend ever true."

Now, nearly four decades since the programme featuring the loveable marsupial first bounded on to our TV screens, the Norfolk-based actress who was among its stars has been invited Down Under next month for a special Skippy reunion.

Liza Goddard played the role of Clancy, a 13-year-old relative of Skippy's owner Sonny Hammond's family.

And yesterday she told the EDP that the invitation for the reunion had come out the blue but she had grabbed the chance of seeing again the fellow cast-members she last had contact with as a teenage actress.

"I was in Australia with my father and I went along for an audition for the series and got the part. Two years work followed during which we filmed 92 episodes," she said.

"It was hard work, we were filming six days a week from 6am until 6pm but I was great fun and fantastic television experience for me as a 17-year-old girl starting out in the business."

She revealed that they worked with a group of about 20 untrained wallabies "some good and some bad."

"They ran off sometimes and there was a weekly prize of a bottle of Scotch for the crew member who caught the biggest number of skippies," she recalled.

The actress - currently appearing with actor Ian Ogilvy in a touring stage production of Dangerous Obsession - said that filming the Skippy series was great fun and that everyone had a "whale of a time".

"We would all go out partying on a Friday night and on Saturday nights we would be out until dawn on Sunday," she said.

"I think the success of the series was because it was all so innocent, especially when compared to some of today's programmes, and it's amazing how many people can still remember the theme tune."

Ms Goddard, who opened new play equipment at South Creake near Fakenham on Saturday afternoon before starting the touring show, said she was looking forward to seeing some of the cast again, especially Garry Pankhurst who played Sonny.

"He went on to become a hotelier in Queensland and I last saw him when he came over to this country as a guest on my This is Your Life in 1985, when Eamon Andrews presented the show," she said.

Families in the late 1960s followed the adventures of Skippy as he bounded through the Waratah National Park near Sydney with his adoring owner.

The stories told of the duo's adventures as they helped to protect the game reserve from smugglers, rustlers and escaped convicts. And, in the true traditions of all classic children's series, there were tearful moments whenever Skippy was ill or the victim of a villainous plot.

The series ran between 1966 and 1969 with each of the 92 episodes lasting 25 minutes. Elke Neidhardt played the role of Dr Anna Sreiner, the beautiful German scientist who lived and worked in the Waratah National Park.

In 1970 vandals made an unsuccessful attempt to kill the original Skippy.


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